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Happy-New-Year-2016-Best-Wishes-WallpaperAlready year 2015 has come to an end, and what a year it has been! From my own personal highlights to the many exciting highlights in the showbiz industry, I take a look at the year that was 2015.

The new guy

When Sarkodie told the world he was ‘the new guy’ through his collaboration with American rapper, Ace Hood, he was trending throughout on social media. From the announcement of the single, through to the shooting of the video in the US, up to the release of the single, ‘New Guy’ became the term for anyone seen as the man of the moment. So in this review, I will use the heading in such broad terms.

There was so much hype around the release of Sarkodie’s ‘New Guy’ single but sadly the biggest memory most people would have of the song is the controversy that ensued after Ace Hood tweeted suggesting that Sarkodie had paid him $25,000 before he agreed to feature on the record. The rapper made these comments in response to a video that was shared on Twitter, in which Sarkodie claiming in an interview that Ace Hood’s management rather reached out to Sarkodie for collaboration! ‘The new Sarkodie’ appeared to be rather boastful, and he had bitten off more than he could chew!

Sarkodie nonetheless had a great year including the release of his 4th Studio album, ‘Mary’ in memory of his late grandmother. He also made headlines with his sold-out concert at the iconic Apollo Theater in New York. And who can forget his brush with the law when the new car he bought was reported to the police as a stolen car. Sarkodie was also served with a writ for not fulfilling his obligations to a concert promoter in Russia, before he ended the year on a good note with his sold out annual concert, Rapperholic at the Accra International Conference Centre.

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My new guy for 2015 was certainly Stonebwoy. After winning Ghana Music Awards Artist Of the Year, he continued his good year winning several International awards including BET Award, All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) and others. He also toured with iconic reggae group, Morgan Herritage among many other highlights.

One of the biggest breakthrough acts of 2015 was Wisa Greid with his smash hit, ‘Ekiki Me’ and before the end of the year, he made the bravest attempt on the new guy title with his performance at Citi FM’s annual concert, Decemba 2 Rememba. Wisa in the heat of his performance pulled down his pants and pulled out his penis to the disgust of Ghanaians. He trended in the media throughout the Christmas period for his crazy act of indecency as well as the disappointing size of his manhood. Wisa is clearly the ‘new guy’ that everyone is talking about, but for how long will that last and what next will we be talking about him for? Is his young career over or is he going to jail as he is currently facing prosecution for his actions.

Crazy…the new cool

So was there anything crazier than Wisa Greid pulling out his tiny penis on stage? Well perhaps the only thing that came close was weird story surrounding Y FM (Takoradi) presenter named Adaeze Onyinyechie Ayoka aka Princess Ada. The whole nation was filled with fury when pictures suggesting that Princess Ada had been abducted and raped by a gang hit Facebook. The was a national outcry for the police to hunt down the perpetrators of the inhumane act but surprising we were hit with a crazy twist which suggested that Ada had staged everything just to get attention from her boyfriend. She was declared mentally unstable and is currently undergoing psycho-analysis and rehabilitation.

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Dum-mellowed

In May, for the first time in the history of the Entertainment Industry, Yvonne Nelson took it upon herself, together with other celebrities, to add their voices to the masses in protest against the energy crisis in the country. She started campaign tagged #DumsorMustStop to mount pressure government to address the energy situation in a better manner. The campaign received massive public support leading to a well-attended peaceful vigil. The campaign didn’t immediately bring an end to ‘Dumsor’ it only mellowed the ‘Dum’ a bit for Ghanaians and in the process ended Yvonne’s great friendship with colleague actor, John Dumelo !

Comebacks and reinventions

2015 saw the resurgence of many old faces. Pastor Ofori Amponsah, who quit secular music for some years to pursue full-time ministry, preaching the word of God, returned highlife music with the release of a new song, ‘Alewa’ featuring Sarkodie. The move was met with a huge backlash from the Christian world, the world of showbiz and his fans. His calling into ‘the ministry’ was questioned, and to make matters worse, the Pastor couldn’t even recite a verse from the bible during a radio interview.

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2015 also saw Reggie Zippy and Bollie making a comeback that shook the world! The two who are now based in the UK took over the headlines in Ghana in UK as they appeared on Britain’s Got Talent as Menn On Point, and later on The X-Factor as Reggie N Bollie. The duo went as far as winning second position on The X-Factor.

Praye also announced their reunion in 2015 with Praye Tintin and Praye Tiatia, but Praye Honeho has not yet shown any interest in joining. Praye Tintin left the group due to disagreements with fellow group members. Tiatia and Honeho remained as a group and released several singles before agreeing to dissolve the group to pursue solo careers. The reunited Praye is yet to release a new single though they have been performing together at several shows since coming back together.

Where’s Nana Aba?

Popular TV3 host and news anchor Nana Aba Anamoah has an interesting year first by having people say ‘Nana Aba was there’ and later got them guessing where she was going. Nana Aba became the talk of town when she shared photos suggesting that she was in old Trafford to watch a Manchester United match. Nana Aba who explained that she was only playing a prank on her twitter followers became the ridicule of social media as several ‘Nana Aba Was there’ memes flooded the internet. The incident led to a suspension from the management of TV3 and Nana Aba, who was mourning the death of her father, eventually resigned from TV 3. After her resignation, there news now became about where Nana Aba was heading to next. She was linked to moving to UTV and even Joy FM until finally I became clear she would be going to GhOne.

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The big shuffle!

2015 witnessed a lot of media personalities moving around from one media house to the other. With the Bola Ray led EIB Network leading the war on poaching media personalities, Global Media Alliance’s YFM became the biggest loser in the media wars. YFM morning show Ryse N Shyne host, Ms Naa first left for Live FM and eventually returned to YFM after some few months. However YFM lost more presenters to EIB Group including Jay Foley, Sammy Forson and Giovanni. Afia Schwarzenegger left Happy FM for Kasapa FM and Fiifa Banson left Peace FM also for Kasapa FM. The EIB group also acquired GhOne Television and they continue to look for big names lead the new image of the channel.

PDA, weddings and divorce

2015 was a year of many love stories. Paedae of R2bees and Sandra Ankobiah finally made it public that they were dating – well after they accidentally left hints on instagram. After previously denying their relationship in the media, the two finally confirmed they were an item in several separate interviews.

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Love came in a different form for ace broadcast journalist, Gifty Anti who finally tied the knot with Nana Ansah Kwao IV in a royal wedding of a lifetime. Big Brother Africa star and actress, Selorm ‘Selly’ Galley also got married to long-time boyfriend, Praye Tiatia of Praye fame. Actor Majid Michel renewed his wedding vows to wife Verna on their 10th anniversary.

So here are my highlights of 2015 but of course we cannot forget the legal battles of KKD and Kwaw Kese, which started in 2014. How about the beef between VVIP and former VIP member Promzy? Was his anger towards Reggie Rockstone real or just hype? How about Blakk Rasta’s appearance in in parliament for accusing MPs of smoking marijuana? Rocky Dawuni also had good news in 2015 when his album made the Billboard Reggae Album Chart. He also gained a historic Grammy Awards 2016 nomination with the acclaimed album, ‘Branches of The Same Tree’ under Cumbancha Label.

I wish Rocky Dawuni all the best with the Grammys in 2016 and to the rest of you I wish you prosperous New Year filled with hope, achievement, success and elevation. God bless you for your support and love throughout the past year!!!

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What would Ghana losing AfroNation to Nigeria mean?

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The recent conversations about AfroNation going to Nigeria  has flashes of deja vu. Whether it is Highlife, Hiplife, Azonto, Afrobeats or the Year of Return, (which led to Tourism becoming one of the countries top earners) Ghana consistently seems to be the nursery or nurturing ground of pioneering and brilliant ideas.

When it comes to independence on the continent, Ghana can claim to be the pioneers. When it comes to uniting the Pan-African diaspora, again, Ghana has a leading role! In football,  the Black Stars shine bright. But often, somewhere along the course, we seem to lose inertia, and before we know it, we are left in the shadows and someone is doing it bigger and better than us.

Read Also: AfroNation has not been taken away from Ghana – Creative Arts Minister

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Beyond the Return is perhaps the biggest legacy of President Akufo-Addo because it can live on forever. It has no end. AfroNation was the star global attraction. So, thoughts of losing it have me worried. Can we afford to also let this legacy defining event go to Nigeria instead? They may be our dear brothers and sisters, and we may the only people who understand that our rivalry is always friendly, but each time they take the baton and run with it, I cannot help but wish it was us this time.

Since Ghana showed the way, many other African nations are learning how to try to attract the “diaspora dollar.” They may not have the historical significance that Ghana has, but they are making the best of what they have, and music, especially Afrobeats and Amapiano are helping.

They have understood that direct tourism, via the 10,000 to 15,000 people that can travel to Ghana just for ANG is significant. Those people benefit the whole community as they spend on travel, accommodation, transport, food, events, bars, nightclubs, etc.

Tourism is a big income earner for global cities like New York, London and Paris . Can Accra afford to continue losing such massive opportunities? AfroNationGhana brought the best and the brightest Afrobeats stars to Ghana in the biggest Afrobeats concerts Ghana has ever seen.

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No show from Sista Afia and more catfights, as cast of ‘GH Queens’ gather for ‘Reunion show’

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Just as it was reported during the premiere event for ‘GH Queens’ sometime in April, some stars from the pseudo-reality TV show were again missing from the Reunion show, which started airing on Friday. Yes, the fiesty Sista Afia and Fantana will not be making an appearance on the three-part special reunion show on Akwaaba Magic (DStv channel 150). (more…)

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Coachella through the eyes of an African

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My second showing at the Coachella Music & Arts Festival confirmed to me the sheer diversity of talent and music that gets showcased each year. But Coachella is more than music and arts, it is a celebration of cultures, the spirit of people, fashion, and more. If you’re a conservative African,  then expect some cultural shocks as the festival doesn’t hold back in celebrating life and accepting it in all of its forms.

 

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The festival embraces queer and intersecting groups, so seeing raunchy and over-the-top costumes from festival-goers is to be expected. Some of the washrooms on the festival grounds are even gender-neutral, so expect to see both women and men queuing up to use the same washroom.  Marijuana has been legal in California for many years, so you should also expect people to smoke at free range; without much care for those who don’t.  If you’re able to look beyond all these as “an African”, then you too can have a swell time at Coachella!

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After seeing Burna Boy and Mr Eazi perform in 2019, when I had my first experience of Coachella,  I felt proud as an African.  I also noticed how the African festival-goers (from mainly across the United States and the United Kingdom) watched with some pride the performances from Mr Eazi and Burna Boy on the Coachella stage. So when the lineup was announced for 2000 to include Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 and Aya Nakamura, I was happy that Africans were becoming a regular on the festival’s lineup.  Sadly, Covid-19 didn’t let that happen in 2020 and 2021. In fact, I almost entered a $2,000 bet with my colleague blogger, David Mawuli that when the festival returned, there would be a Ghanaian artist on the lineup. Thank goodness I rather spent that money on a bonus hunt online casino. Well, at least I won $120 back!

 

When the lineup was announced for 2022, the only African on the main stages was Black Coffee, while fellow South Africans,  Major League DJZ scheduled for The DoLab tent. So when I attended weekend two of the festival, I made sure to watch Black Coffee’s set. He played on Day 1. Unlike the Burna Boy and Mr Eazi sets, that I witnessed in 2019, the audience at Black Coffee’s set was not predominantly Africans. It was a global audience. The crowd was as thick as it was energetic.  It was also exciting to hear the 2022 Grammy Award Best Dance/ Electronic Album-winner, incorporate remixes of some authentic African rhythms in his set.

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Arooj Aftab, Coachella 2022, Friday 04-22, Gobi, Performances, Weekend 2 Credit/Provider
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On Day 1, I also showed some interest in Pakistani vocalist Arooj Aftab, who won the Grammy this year for Best Global Performance.  A lot of Africans had tipped ‘Essence’ by Wizkid and Tems for that award. So, I had to find out for myself what makes Arooj Aftab tick.

 

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With these two performances of interest out of the way, I stuck to my plan of focusing on big acts that I haven’t seen performing before because, with the grand nature of the festival and the sheer size of the venue, it is simply impossible to experience everything!

 

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The Empire Polo Club is a 78-acre polo club, which leases out its polo grounds for the festival. The venue is so huge that festivalgoers walk for several miles before getting into the main entrance to the festival grounds. When accounting for land used for parking and camping, the event covers a footprint of over 600 acres!

 

Across the grounds, several stages continuously host live music. The main stages are the Coachella Stage, Outdoor Theatre, Gobi Tent, Mojave Tent, and Sahara Tent; in addition to the smaller Yuma stage and Sonora stage. Each stage was unique in appearance and suited for the lineup of artists on it. The big stages had elaborate settings to create various visual aesthetic attributes needed to project the individuality of the artists and make festival-goers enjoy their performances even better.

Ari Lennox, Coachella 2022, Coachella Stage, Friday 04-22, Performances, Weekend 2

 

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I missed Ari Lenox’s performance at Afrochella in Ghana this past December so, I had to experience her set especially after all the buzz she generated on social media with her visit to Ghana.  The sultry singer hit the stage, giving fans a look and performance to remember. The D.C. native hit the stage in a jaw-dropping gold ensemble to perform several ‘woke female’  themed songs for her fans.

Anitta proved why she is a sensation in the Latin world and beyond, with her high octane performances. The Brazilian singer changed into three different sexy outfits that accentuated her figure as she rocked them in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

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Baby Keem, who recently won a Grammy for best rap performance, was one of the up-and-coming hip-hop performers at the festival. One of the highlights from his set was bringing on label boss, Kendrick Lamar, a little over 30 minutes into his set. The rappers, both in all-black ensembles, performed together for the final two songs including “family ties.”

 

I ended Day 1 with Harry Styles who literally brought disco to the desert! One of the biggest highlights from the set of the “As It Was” singer, was bringing Lizzo on stage to perform a song from the One Direction archives.  It was fun to see him perform with so much energy, and he was very interactive with the crowd too.

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Day 2

Giveon, Performances, Saturday 04-23, Weekend 2

 

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On Day 2 I kicked things off with a performance from R&B singer, Giveon. I was late in getting to the venue but was happy to at least see him perform his hit song ‘Heartbreak Anniversary’ before he left the stage. I then visited The Do Lab stage for some electrifying DJ mixes and performances.

 

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Grammy-winning rapper, Megan Thee Stallion showed all the hot girls and boys of Coachella how a superstar commands a stage during her hour-long set. She opened her show with “Megan’s Piano” wearing a black and silver spacey one-piece with futuristic glasses on. She and her backup dancers shook everything they had, and the crowd went wild as expected.

 

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Rapper, Isaiah Rashad opened his set with a powerful pre-recorded film acknowledging recent speculation about his sexuality. In a collage of media footage and audio, commentators react to a video of Rashad leaked this year,  showing the rapper being intimate with two men.  He gave fans back-to-back performances of his hit songs amidst cheers and a lot of support.

Billie Eilish, Coachella Stage, Saturday

When I saw Billie Eelish on the Coachella lineup in 2019 I didn’t know her back then, so I didn’t attend her set, but days after I found out she was the new it-girl and she later went on to sweep the Grammy Awards the following year. So, this time I simply had to experience her, and I did! Her 90-minute set featured songs like “NDA,” “Therefore I Am,” “idontwannabeyouanymore” and “You Should See Me In A Crown.” She had a small accident when she fell onstage while singing “Getting Older.” Later on during her set, Eilish brought along her brother Finneas O’Connell for an acoustic cover of her single “Your Power.”

21 Savage, Coachella 2022, Performances, Sahara, Saturday 04-23

I closed the night with a little bit of 21 Savage!

 

Day 3

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On Day 3 I was physically worn out from all the standing and walking, so I didn’t want to do too much. I circled my day around a few acts.  I kicked off with Brixton rapper Dave, whose set was attended by a huge UK crowd that cheered him along throughout his performance!

 

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He recreated his “Alex From Glasto” viral moment from 2019 by picking a fan from the crowd to join him on stage to rap a verse from ‘Thiago Silva,’ his 2016 hit with AJ Tracey.  He also performed his hit song ‘Location’ which features Burna Boy. Dave’s set was one of my favorites!

 

Since I had seen Doja Cat recently at Day N Vegas, I only saw the tail end of her set, as I wanted to go to the Coachella Stage on time to get closer to the headliners Swedish House Mafia and The Weeknd. I wasn’t so sure when they were announced as the replacement of Kanye West but seeing them back-to-back made so much sense, and the energy was just what was needed to bring Coachella to an end!

 

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Swedish House Mafia started things off, dropping hit electronic dance music tracks back-to-back, punctuated by fireworks and pyrotechnics.  Their set lasted about 55 minutes. When they played their most popular song, “Don’t You Worry Child,” they dropped the music entirely at the key moment to allow the crowd to sing the chorus in unison.

Swedish House Mafia x The Weeknd, Coachella Stage, Performances, Sunday 04-24
Credit: Jacob Mulka

The Weeknd then rolled through with a crowd-pleasing list of hits, including “The Hills,” “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming.” He was amazing on the night although his set lacked a lot of the theatrics and stagecraft and special guests.  He closed his set with a slowed-down version of his mega-hit “Save Your Tears.” Then Swedish House Mafia rejoined him and they closed the set, and the 2022 Coachella experience, together with the song “Moth to a Flame.”

 

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Ameyaw Debrah wants to sue Kanye West for pulling out of Coachella, after he spent over $3000 planning his trip

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Ghanaian blogger, Ameyaw Debrah is looking to sue someone over Monday’s news that rapper, Kanye West had pulled out of the upcoming Coachella Music and Arts festival…and Kanye for now is the obvious choice!

According to the blogger, he has spent almost $4,000 in booking flights and a hotel for the two-weekend festival in Indio, California, which runs April 15-17 and April 22-24.  He pointed out the unusually high prices of accommodation in the area due to the festival.

In a video posted on Ameyaw TV, Debrah cited possible mental stress from spending so much money, and not getting what he paid for in the end.  He however hopes the Kanye’s replacement can make up for his troubles.

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According to reports from Variety, reps for West and the festival did not immediately respond to requests for comment as to why the rapper pulled out of the festival.

The reason for his cancelation was not immediately clear, although a source tells Variety that he had not rehearsed or prepared for the appearance. While West played a full set, accompanied by Drake, at the Los Angeles Coliseum in December, Coachella is North America’s largest music festival and by necessity runs a very tight operation. West also pulled out of a planned headlining appearance at the 2020 festival — which ultimately was postponed until this year due to the pandemic — mere days before it was announced, sources confirmed to Variety at the time.

Yet there are many other reasons why news does not come as a shock, as West’s unpredictable and combative behavior in recent months put a question mark over his appearance even as it was announced in January; he had been barred from a planned appearance at Sunday night’s Grammy Awards due to what was described as his “concerning online behavior.” West canceled the closing dates of his 2016 “Saint Pablo” tour and was hospitalized for mental-health reasons shortly afterward, following incidents that were similar in ways to his behavior in recent months. West has said many times that he suffers from bipolar disorder.

Coachella’s first two nights will be headlined by Harry Styles and Billie Eilish. The festival essentially hedged its bets on West by billing EDM titans Swedish House Mafia in an unspecified spot on the lineup, listed at the bottom of the official announcement poster, leaving open the option of the group replacing him as Sunday’s headliner in the event he pulled out. With the festival just 11 days away, that seems a likely scenario.

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Rumors had been circulating that Travis Scott would be joining West for the performance, but TMZ says that he will not be appearing either. Scott has been keeping a low profile since 10 people died in a rush toward the stage during his headlining performance at his Astroworld festival in Houston in October.

Such an appearance would be on-message for West, who in recent months has been publicly embracing such ostracized celebrities as Marilyn Manson, who is accused of sexual assault, and DaBaby, who has made unapologetically homophobic comments in recent months.

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‘I hail you’- Kelvynboy reacts as Sarkodie requests for his “Down flat” song to be played in a club in London

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Ghanaian rapper, Sarkodie is all about helping bring the young ones in the music industry up. (more…)

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Africans don’t trust each other – my experience with an Ethiopian taxi driver in Las Vegas

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My recent trip to Las Vegas, Nevada came with many experiences, as I put myself out there to explore the city a lot more than I did in my previous two visits. My first time in Vegas was for one night only, to attend the Miss Universe finale in 2017.  My second time was for the Day N Vegas festival in 2019, which also brought me back for a third time this year.

On day-two of Day N Vegas, I had an experience that corroborated the belief of many Africans, that we do not trust one another.  Due to Day N Vegas, most of the area around the Las Vegas Festival Grounds was closed to taxis and rideshare apps such as Uber and Lift, which made it very stressful to get a car whenever I closed from the festival and headed to my hotel room. It meant that after walking and standing at the grounds for hours, we had to walk quite a distance to look for cars.

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My experience was even made worse when the data on my AT&T phone number kept failing, meaning that after all the stress covering the concerts, I couldn’t use Uber to request for a ride.  On the night of day 2, I discovered that there was a pick-up point for taxis within the Circus Circus Hotel, Casino & Theme Park. Sadly the taxis were not coming in as rapidly as I would have wished for. I was the third in line, but it took over one hour of standing in the queue till I finally got a taxi.

When the taxi came, I got in but when the driver asked for the address I was going to, I couldn’t remember the location of my hotel. I mentioned the name of the hotel, but the driver wasn’t familiar with it and insisted that he couldn’t take me if I didn’t get the address for him. I wasn’t willing to waste the hours of standing and waiting to be turned down by any driver. My internet wasn’t working, and I tried to ask him to use his internet Ito locate the hotel, but he was indifferent. I told him “lets go to downtown and I will know where my hotel is,  because it’s not far from the Fremont Street”.

Finally, he agreed and moved on. Then he started a conversation with me, once he suspected I was from Africa. I told him I was from Ghana when he told me he was Ethiopian. He asked about my visit and thought I was a ‘new rich African’ when I told him I was in town for Day N Vegas.

When, I finally arrived at my hotel I tried to pay with a card. Since it was a metered cab, I could see my fare right in front of me, with a POS device for payment. But I noted it was slightly expensive paying with  a card compared to paying cash, so I told the driver that I would rather pay with cash, after all I am African!

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Then surprisingly he asked me how much I would pay him, the meter said $18 so I said I will give him $20 but he screamed “no $25!” I then gave him a $100 note to which he retorted, “are you sure it’s not fake?”.  I said no, laughed it off and collected my change.

Watch my vlog on the experience below:

Interestingly, the following night, I had internet, so I ordered for an Uber ride after the Day N Vegas finale, and again the driver was Ethiopian. This time it was a younger driver and we had an interesting conversation about Africa and the civil war in Ethiopia.

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I had noticed that there were a lot of Ethiopians in Vegas. Most of the African restaurants listed on Uber Eats are Ethiopian and most of the drivers were too. When I pointed it out in our conversation, he told me that Vegas has the next biggest concentration of Ethiopians in the USA after the DMV tristate.  I also found out that affluent Ethiopians like to buy Mississauga Real Estate styled homes in the USA.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 68,001 people reported Ethiopian ancestry in 2000. Between 2007 and 2011, there were approximately 151,515 Ethiopia-born residents in the United States. According to Aaron Matteo Terrazas, “if the descendants of Ethiopian-born migrants (the second generation and up) are included, the estimates range upwards of 460,000 in the United States.

Some Ethiopians living in the US enjoy using exquisitely designed Ten Point Crossbow in archery games. Football is the most popular sport in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian national football team called the “Walyia Antelopes” won the 1962 African Cup of nations and in 2013 Ethiopia qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in 31 years.

Other sports played include basketball, volleyball, and tennis. Ethiopia has a tradition of medal-winning runners: Abebe Bikila, Belayneh Dinsamo, and Derartu Tulu. Haile Gebreselassie has set several world records.

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Ethiopia has made remarkable progress in education, with primary school net enrolment tripling between 2000 and 2016 to the current 100 per cent.  Although most children enroll in school, many do not complete their education: 85 per cent make it past Grade 5 and 54 per cent past Grade 8. Progress has been enabled through a sustained government-led effort to reduce poverty and expand the public education system equitably. This has been backed by substantial increases in national education expenditure and aid to the sector, as well as improved planning and implementation capacity at all levels. According to Boardingschools.ca, there is a good number of Ethiopians having higher education in Canada.

Ethiopian national identity is grounded in the long history of Christianity and Islam in the region, and independence from foreign rule since antiquity.

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